Learning Objectives
By the end of this class, students should be able to:
 Identify the theory being tested in an academic paper.
 Distinguish between theoretical frameworks (like religions), theoretical explanations (complex, but subject to evidence and argument), and hypotheses (statements which can test one prediction of theory).
 Identify the units of analysis and the variables in a social science analysis
 Identify the dependent variable, independent variables, and control variables in an analysis
 Identify the conceptualisation of a variable, and the operationalisation of a variable, and to suggest alternative ways that a particular variable could be conceptualised or operationalised differently.
 To be able to state what level of measurement a variable is measured at, particularly with respect to the categorisations of: categorical, binary, ordinal, continuous (or interval).
 Identify a scale or index in an academic paper. Explain the advantages of a scale or index.
 Search the internet and academic databases and find scales or indexes in the academic literature for a particular concept.
 Explain in everyday language what reliability and validity are, with examples.
Questions
 What is research methods, why does it matter, and how does it relate to statistics?
 How do I distinguish between a theoretical framework, a theoretical explanation, and a hypothesis?
 How do I identify the units of analysis and the variables in a study?
 How do I distinguish between the dependent variable, independent variables, and control variables?
 How do I properly conceptualise a variable?
 How do I properly operationalise a variable?
 How can I tell if a variable is measured as a categorical, binary, ordinal, or continuous (or interval) variable?
 How do I make a scale or index? How do I identify them in an academic paper?
 How do I find a good (validated) scale or index in the academic literature?
 How do I know if my variable or scale or index is reliable and/or valid?
